JACKSON – People plan so many things throughout their lives. They put tremendous thought into Christmas or wedding gifts for loved ones. Purchasing a house or car can take months of research and debate. So why not take the time to plan that last gift to something that has been such a big part of your life – your Catholic faith?
There is often confusion surrounding the term ‘planned giving.’ What does that really mean? Simply put, it means taking time to determine what gift will become a legacy, usually given to an organization that is close to your heart.
The staff at the Catholic Foundation can help plan out that gift. There are different giving opportunities and staff can help determine which type of gift is right for each person. A family can start a trust or designate a gift through a will. Other options include a charitable gift annuity or a gift of life insurance.
Many people have chosen their legacy gift because they want a loved one to be actively remembered at their parish after they are gone. Another misconception is that only the very wealthy can leave a legacy gift. This is not the case. Planned giving can be affordable for any family with the right deliberation.
“When I first started with The Catholic Foundation, I was speaking to a donor who started a trust. He said, ‘My wife poured so much love, sweat and tears into her students and the school. I want the school and even the future students to continue to feel that love, so I started a trust in her memory. It may not be much in terms of dollars, but for me, knowing that her legacy will strengthen this school brings me comfort,’” said Rebecca Harris, executive director of the Catholic Foundation. “These are the stories I often hear from our donors. I enjoy working with people throughout our diocese helping them to structure gifts that will honor their legacy. When you come to the Foundation you are not giving to the Catholic Foundation but rather, through the Catholic Foundation. We simply invest and administer your donations so that your gift will benefit your parish, school or the ministries that are important to you,” added Harris.
Recently, the Foundation worked with Father John Bohn, pastor of Jackson St. Richard Parish and his development director Shannon Garner, to host a life planning seminar. “I normally like to host a seminar annually to share with parishioners information about our Catholic teachings on end-of-life issues, and then incorporate stewardship and planned-giving information into it.,” said Father Bohn. “As healthcare technology advances, it is important for Catholics to know what is and is not acceptable in regards to preserving human life. Likewise, I like to share information with them about the need for wills, durable powers of attorney, and advanced directives for healthcare. Finally, it is appropriate to also encourage parishioners to begin to think long-term about making gifts to the Church, be it money, property, stocks or other types of investment vehicles. Parishioners who have attended these seminars are always grateful for the information they receive. We answer a lot of their questions, and we ‘plant seeds’ for giving that consistently bear great fruit for our Church,” he added.
The Catholic Foundation provided a will planning guidebook designed to help families think about how to divide their estates prior to visiting with their estate planning attorney. John Fletcher, an attorney at Jones and Walker in Jackson, answered questions and gave advice on the importance of having a will and keeping it updated.
Steve Massey from Wealth Partners was on hand to discuss the different types of planned gifts and answer any questions. Massey is an advocate for planned giving as a way to honor his parish community. “Over the years, St. Richard’s Church and School have provided so much of our family’s faith foundation. Planned giving is a way for us all to be good stewards of the valuable gifts we have received and to make sure these institutions remain viable and financially sound to provide for future generations,” said Massey. No one likes to think about death and dying. However, simple decisions made now can help those left behind. A Foundation representative will ask each family to consider what had an impact on its faith life – perhaps their parish, a Catholic school, a service center. Supporting seminarian education, or possibly retired priests will resonate with a particular family. Those interested in a planning session can contact Rebecca Harris at 601-960-8477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.